Christophe Viseux

Camel Race

This ongoing essay shot at the Al Wathba race track near Abu Dhabi during the finale week of the racing season in March 2014 aims to depict one of the oldest, yet very active parts of the Emirati and Arab tradition: the camel race. A flourishing industry, camel races serve as a social gathering for many locals and curious visitors. While betting is illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in accordance to the Islamic texts, significant money prizes and endowments, such as brand new SUVs are given away to the winning owners as incentives.

Underage, lightweight jockeys traditionally mounted the finest racing camels, in order to achieve a top speed. The rise in popularity of this prosperous industry had a perverse effect, by increasing child trafficking, originating from South Asia and Africa. Following the international strain stemming from human rights activists, the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed in 2005 the Law No.15, banning the employment of underage camel jockeys. As a substitute, small and inexpensive remote controlled robots can now be found mounted on the humps of the camels. According tp the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than a thousand children received assistance from local authorities and organizations before being repatriated to their home countries.



Christophe Viseux is a freelance photographer based between Paris and Dubai.


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Christophe Viseux


3 thoughts on “Christophe Viseux- Camel Race”

  1. Peter David Grant

    Great essay, it felt fun, and light hearted all the way through. None of the images felt expected given reading your introduction text.

    The intro text felt to me like it was going to be more dark, given the words about underage riders, and child trafficking. Could you perhaps expand the essay looking in to there past I wonder? and comparing it with how things have changed with the remote controls?

    Side point: Do people here tend to read the text first, and then look at the essay, or the other way around? I always read first before looking.

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